- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Yordano Ventura made another early exit. This time, it wasn’t because of ineffectiveness.

The Kansas City Royals right-hander lasted just three innings for the second straight start before leaving with weakness in his pitching hand during a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

After the Cardinals ended the Royals’ four-game winning streak in the opener of a high-profile interleague series, manager Ned Yost said he couldn’t recall the last time he heard the term “right hand weakness.”

“But again, I’m not a doctor,” Yost added. “Of course you have a level of concern because you don’t really know what it is yet, but we’ll wait till tomorrow and see what’s going on.”

Ventura said through a translator, infielder Christian Colon, that the hand began bothering him on a two-out walk to Mark Reynolds in the third. Royals catcher Salvador Perez and the infielders met with Ventura on the mound during the next at-bat before Yadier Molina flied out to end the inning.

“He couldn’t feel the grip of the ball. He couldn’t really hold it tight, and it just felt really weird,” Colon said. “They noticed that. This is the first time he’s felt like that.”

Yost said he hadn’t talked to Ventura (3-6) and had a terse reply to a question about which fingers were affected.

“Let’s continue to beat this dead horse, all right?” the manager said. “I have no idea. He has right hand weakness.”

In his last two starts, Ventura has allowed six earned runs.

Jaime Garcia pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and helped himself with an RBI single for the Cardinals in a matchup of teams with the best record in each league.

Jon Jay snapped a 2-for-24 slump this month with a two-out RBI triple in the second, and Garcia followed with his 12th career RBI on an opposite-field single to left.

The Cardinals are 40-21 overall and 23-7 at home, both major league bests. They got a huge outing from Garcia (2-3), so far a success story off thoracic outlet surgery.

“Man, superb execution,” Yost said.

Garcia struck out six with no walks, fanning Omar Infante to open the eighth for the 500th strikeout of his career, and retired the side in order five times. The lefty lowered his ERA to 2.06 and hasn’t issued a walk in 30 innings.

Garcia has made five starts - the Cardinals have been shut out in three of them - after totaling 16 starts from 2013-14. He’d been 0 for 8 with four strikeouts before the hit.

The Cardinals added two runs in the eighth on an RBI triple by Randal Grichuk, a ball that right fielder Alex Rios whiffed on, and Jay’s sacrifice fly.

The Royals got two infield hits with two outs in the sixth but Garcia struck out cleanup man Eric Hosmer on an off-speed pitch that ended up at shoe-top level.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (biceps tendinitis) has made one rehab start for Triple-A Omaha, working four innings Wednesday, and could make a few more before rejoining the rotation.

Cardinals: Setup man Jordan Walden (right biceps) could be back before the All-Star break.

UP NEXT

Jeremy Guthrie is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in six interleague starts with the Royals. Tyler Lyons, recalled from Triple-A Memphis to replace injured Lance Lynn, was 0-0 with a 5.54 ERA in three starts earlier this season. He’s 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four minor league starts.


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